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Our research areasInformation law & ethics

Understanding the legal and ethical issues arising from information use.

The ILE group analyses the legal and ethical issues that arise from the use of information within society. We are particularly interested in issues of privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of access to information, and the impact of information on society.   The systems and organisations that govern our access to information and the systems that affect the flow of information have a direct impact on peoples’ lives.  The ILE group seeks to explore and understand these impacts from a legal and ethical perspective and guide future information policy.

Recent work includes a Scottish Library and Information Council funded project (PAUL: Policy-development for Acceptable Use in Libraries) to develop a national model for acceptable use policy for Scottish public libraries to encourage a nationwide approach to equitable access to the Internet.   Aimed at ensuring library users are presented with an easily understandable agreement that clearly specifies their rights and responsibilities while accessing the Internet in public libraries, the project synthesised best practice across Scottish local authorities to produce a usable, universal policy for all.

Current work includes a project with writers group Scottish PEN (Self-censorship and surveillance concerns of Scottish writers) which is exploring how government surveillance impacts on authors and journalists.   Sometimes dubbed the “chilling effect” of surveillance, the project is investigating whether the fear of surveillance changes what authors and journalists decide to write about (i.e. enacting self-censorship). 

Members of the group present regularly at national and international conferences on the topics of privacy, freedom of expression, including IFLA (2014, 2016), and CILIP (2015, 2016, 2017); and have authored key texts including A Handbook of Ethical Practice and forthcoming Information Ethics: Reflection and Practice

Latest publications

Information ethics: a UKeIG white paper. David McMenemy. UK electronic Information Group (UKeIG). (2016)

Rights to privacy and freedom of expression in public libraries : squaring the circle McMenemy David. IFLA World Library and Information Congress, pp. 1-9, (2016)

A Scottish freedom of information regime for a denationalised environment : rhetorical or authentically practical?  Liddle CalumMcMenemy David  Information and Communications Technology Law Vol 24, pp. 225-241, (2015)

The cost exemption in the freedom of information regimes of the United Kingdom and Scotland: A comparative analysisLiddle CalumMcMenemy David  Legal Information Management Vol 15, pp. 195-202, (2015)

Management of acceptable use of computing facilities in the public library: avoiding a panoptic gaze?.  Gallagher Christine, McMenemy David, Poulter Alan.  Journal of Documentation Vol 71, pp. 572-590, (2015).